Patriots defensive back J.C. Jackson returns an interception during New England’s final game of the 2020 season against the New York Jets. Elise Amendola/Associated Press

BOSTON — The New England Patriots have re-signed cornerback J.C. Jackson, bringing back the former undrafted free agent who finished second in the NFL in interceptions in 2020.

The restricted free agent returns to New England, where he will be paid $3.88 million this upcoming season after signing the second-round tender the Patriots placed on him prior to the start of free agency. He will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

The Patriots also announced Friday they released offensive lineman Dustin Woodard.

Jackson made an instant impact in New England’s secondary after signing in 2018 out of Maryland. The 25-year-old’s career-high nine interceptions last season led the Patriots and were second in the NFL behind Miami cornerback Xavien Howard’s 10. Jackson had eight interceptions over his first two seasons in the league, and has started 22 of 45 career games.

BROWNS: Veteran tackle Sheldon Richardson’s contract was terminated, a head-scratching move that creates more salary-cap space but also a hole in the middle of the defensive line.

Days after adding free-agent end Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns parted with Richardson, who started 16 games last season and played well for the team since signing a three-year, $37 million contract with Cleveland in 2019.

The Browns will save around $12 million in cash and salary cap space. Cleveland had roughly $10.3 million left under the cap after signing Clowney to an incentive-laden, one-year deal this week.

RAMS: The lawyer for defensive lineman Aaron Donald said witnesses and surveillance video refute a man’s claim the player assaulted him at a Pittsburgh nightclub last weekend.

Attorney Casey White told WPXI-TV that the video indicates Donald did not assault anyone but was trying to save the victim, De’Vincent Spriggs.

The station aired black-and-white video that shows about a dozen men and a melee in which one man, purportedly Spriggs, ended up on the ground. White says Donald is in the video, pulling someone away from the fight.

White told ESPN that five witnesses say Donald helped pull people away.

VOLUNTARY WORKOUTS: The Pittsburgh Steelers have become the 10th group of NFL players to say they won’t be attending in-person voluntary offseason workouts.

With a post through the NFL Players Association, the Steelers joined the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, Broncos, Seahawks, Giants, Bears, Raiders, Lions, Browns and Patriots in declaring their intent to skip the sessions that can begin on Monday.

An 11th team might also be passing on attending: New York Jets players posted on social media that “many” of them will not show up in person.

BEARS: Chicago signed wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to a one-year contract.

Goodwin has 140 receptions for 2,323 yards and 13 touchdowns over seven seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2013-16) and San Francisco 49ers (2017-19). He opted out of last season – his first and only year with Philadelphia – because of COVID-19 concerns.

 

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